DISTRICT ATTORNEY: She was only a child-a lovely, sad-faced child. Of course, it would surprise her to hear herself called that . . . for girls of eighteen are fond of the deception that they are women. But a child she was. A child . . . who sat and added still another recital to the endless evil with which we live.
1. What proof should be required of rape to justify abortion?
2. Does the principle of lack of consent justify abortion in rape?
LINDA: I remember it was dark. So very dark.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Yes, it's always dark-in matters like this.
LINDA: Michael, that's my boyfriend . . . well, he had brought me home. But I had a letter to mail. I wanted it picked up early in the morning. That's why I went back out. To the mailbox on the corner.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: And it was dark. Remember? You said it was very dark.
ALTER EGO: You'll have to do better than that, Linda. Can't you see? He doesn't believe you.
LINDA: But he must-he must.
ALTER EGO: Look at him. You can see. He's a district attorney. They suspect everyone.
LINDA: But I'm telling him the truth.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Is she? How do I know? There have been so many girls . . So many stories. I would hope to believe her. for protection of the innocent is as important as punishment of the guilty. But, it must be admitted, that in my role of attorney for the people, I have come to expect more deceit . . . than truth. ~ Yet it is truth for which I continually search. ~Please, Linda, go ahead.
LINDA: Well, I had just put the letter in and then , . I felt someone. I turned but there wasn't anyone. I was frightened. The Street was empty but I knew someone was there.
ALTER EGO: You're not making sense, Linda.
LINDA: I'm telling him how it happened.
ALTER EGO: Tell him, then. Don't just go all over the place.
LINDA: I started down the street.. . then he was behind me. My heart almost stopped. I almost died. His hand was on my mouth and I felt the knife on my neck. And then--and then--Oh, God--
ALTER EGO: Don't stop.
LINDA: He pulled me. . . he just pulled me over and he said all those things. All those awful things. I had to be good, he said I had to be good . . . like all the others.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Others?
LINDA: Twenty of them, he said. Even more'n twenty. And no one had told on him. No one...
ALTER EGO: Go on. Go on-it's not your fault if it sounds phony. They've got to find him, Linda. He has to be found . . . if they're gonna help you.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: What was it he told the others?
LINDA: That he would blame it all on them. Like he would me and the whole town would know. Everybody.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: But no one had spoken out. The conspiracy of silence was complete . . . until now Only one question remains: When did all this happen? Was it last night?
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Then when?
LINDA: Three weeks ago.
DOCTOR: Linda came to see me yesterday morning. Her complaint was that her menstrual period was two weeks late. After examining her and performing a few laboratory tests, the reason became quite apparent. She's going to have a child.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: You'll forgive the nature of my questions, Doctor, but under the circumstances I've no choice but to ask them. Prior to yesterday's visit, had you ever made a gynecological examination of this girl?
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Had she ever had relations with anyone?
ALTER EGO: Linda, tell them. It wasn't Michael. You know it's not his baby. Go on and tell them.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Doctor, did Linda tell you what had happened?
DOCTOR: She did.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Did you discover any physical evidence that she had indeed been raped? Were there bruises and scratches? I know it was three weeks since she says the attack took place but perhaps if there was something you found .
DOCTOR: Most criminal attacks happen in just the way she described. A knife at one's throat usually ends resistance.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: In other words, the rape is often physically impossible to prove?
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Then in this case, as in many others, all we have is the word of the girl involved?
DOCTOR: I would rather believe than disbelieve.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: But we have a law, Doctor, and in this State the law stipulates that abortion cannot be performed unless there is evidence of rape.
DOCTOR: I have her word.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Wouldn't you agree that the charge of rape might be a convenient way for a girl to obtain an abortion the law otherwise forbids?
DOCTOR: If a girl becomes desperate enough . . . if she is frightened enough of her parents . . . of the town, yes, she might very well invent the fiction of rape. But I would also say that for this girl to come forward now knowing she would seem foolish . . . knowing the consequences she faced . . . takes great courage. I would not like to dishonor her for that.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: And yet, you and I, Doctor, we are acting. for the community. The law is their consensus. I submit we must be dispassionate in our judgment.
DOCTOR: For my part, sir . . .1 prefer more passion in my beliefs, not less.
LINDA: May I speak? I don't want to bear this thing inside me. It comes from some- thing I will cry about the rest of my life. I know I should have come to you before but he was right. I was like all the others he had hurt. I was ashamed. He made me filth. He used me. I didn't want to tell anyone. I thought it would die away. But it wouldn't die. It came alive. And I don't want it. Please . . . I don't want it.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Who is there who does not respond to the cry of a hurt and frightened child? But if only the answer were as simple as she seems to make it. We are dealing here with life.
DOCTOR: And she must be allowed to determine hers.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: But the life within her.
DOCTOR: It is not yet life.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: But it grows and soon there will be a heart that beats. And then a child. Its past will not affect its future. It will add to all our lives not diminish it. And if she does not keep the child . . there are many who would wish it. Too many. The tragedy of this girl can still end in great joy.
DOCTOR: I'm afraid we must leave that to her . . . and she has asked to have the pregnancy aborted. Will you certify it as rape?
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I've shown you the difficulty of determining it. Linda . . .?
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: You do understand this, don't you?
LINDA: I understand. But only that a child should come from love. Not from this ugly thing. I don't want it. Please, let them take it from me.
"In this case, it is assured that if there is evidence of rape, the law would provide an abortion could be performed. This problem arises in many cases in criminal court and particularly in a rape case.
"Now there certainly is evidence of rape. However, her case is weak in one vital respect: The standard rule in a rape case is that is the complaint must be made promptly or else suspicion created. She did not make her complaint promptly. She has an excuse by reason of fear, but the trier of the facts has the same problem in any case.
"It seems to me the problem here is not one of whether legal abortion is justified on grounds of rape, but is there enough evidence to allow the district attorney to say yes."
DR. SOPHIA KLEEGMAN /
New York University College of Medicine /
"When a nineteen-year-old girl is raped, will she tell her parents? Will she tell anybody? "If she has a secure relationship with her parents, then she is more likely to tell them, but in many instances she may not tell anyone. She is frightened, she is shocked and she is just ashamed and afraid to tell. As this girl said, she feels it may blow away. "In this skit, as far as believing this girl is concerned, in our democracy it is our custom that a person is innocent until proven guilty. From this standpoint, I feel strongly that the victim of rape is more deserving of our credence rather than of our disbelief."
DR. DAVID LOUISELL /
University of California /
"In terms of numbers, rape is a rare case, compared to the other types of problems that proposed abortion legislation would deal with. I don't think anybody disagrees that a curettage would certainly be legitimate following rape.~. No one disputes this if it is done before implantation. However, there is no logical place to pinpoint the beginning of life except at conception. Any other choice would be purely arbitrary.
"So, for me, I must say I have been unable to find any philosophic principle, once being convinced that human life can begin and does begin at conception, to justify abortion for rape alter implantation.
"Any other principle results in your destroying human life.
"I will never forget when this proposal came before the California Legislative Committee. The Episcopal chaplain at the University Medical School reminded us of the conclusion of the film Judgment at Nuremberg, where the German judge in a spirit of human anguish which was overwhelming~when he realized what he had been a party to--turned to the American judge and he said, 'Believe me, Judge~believe me, I never knew it would come to this.' And the American judge said, 'Sir, it came to this the first time you took an innocent life.' "